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We were eating dinner. The phone rang. My youngest son got up to answer it. That, in itself, was extraordinary. We never answer the phone at dinnertime! The rest of the family was so flabbergasted by this uncharacteristic behaviour that we unashamedly eavesdropped on his conversation.
"Hello?" he said. "Yes."
And then, "Yeeeesss!" which was drawn out in such a way that it sounded very much like, "Yes, of course! That is so obvious, why are you even asking?"
He hung up the phone with, "Ok. Goodbye," and returned to his meal.
When it became apparent that he wasn't going to enlighten us, I asked him who had called.
He told me and returned to his mashed potatoes.
"Aaaand? What did she want?"
He looked at me in a way that made it apparent he would rather not disclose the details of his conversation, but when I didn't drop it, he said, all in a rush, "She tried to get into her secret world but ended up in another secret world that she thought might be mine so she phoned to see if it was."
"You have a secret world of your own?" I asked, delighted.
"Yeeesss!" he said, in exactly the same don't-be-so-dense way that he'd answered his friend on the phone.
"Oh. Wow." I said. "What's it like?"
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret any more," he replied.
Point taken. But I couldn't resist asking a few more questions. The only tidbit he allowed me, though, was that his secret world's entrance was a stone archway guarded by a Viking.
Just like with Leaf, this image would not leave me alone. All sorts of ideas began swirling through my head. Eventually, I chatted with my son's friend, who was much more willing to talk about the goings-on in her secret world.
The story continues here . . .
In the course of our conversation, I asked her what she would call herself if she could change her name.
"JoJo," she said, without hesitation.
When I asked my son the same question, he said, "Jesse."
So Jesse and JoJo became the main characters of the story taking shape in my mind. A Viking-guarded stone archway became one of the settings. And kids who suddenly couldn't get into their secret worlds became the starting point for a very satisfying adventure.
I know my imaginings don't come anywhere close to what my son's and his friend's secret worlds were like, but I will be forever grateful for the delightful story their vibrant imaginations sparked to life in me.